By next Monday, Abbey is supposed to be standing up in front of her English class in Paris and teaching them how to make sounds like "th".
It turns out we were the ones who still had some learning to do. First of all, the administrative delay that keeps us on the familiar side of the Atlantic has turned into our first French cultural lesson. That is, in a country with such astoundingly intricate bureaucracy, a piece of paper is really nothing more than a needle in a haystack. It doesn't seem to matter how "URGENT" (oor-jahn) the issue claims to be. All's fair in love...and French governmental offices. Get in line.
To your average person dealing with the necessary papers for living life over there (of which there are many - you thought the IRS was cryptic and longwinded!), these sorts of delays are a natural - admittedly unpleasant - part of life. It's like running into bumper-to-bumper traffic on your way to an important meeting, coming down with a nasty strain of flu, or getting your picnic rained on. Everybody French politely fumes on your behalf, emphathizes, but eventually sighs and reigns themselves to the fated situation. And expects you to do the same.
Where have all the plucky peasants with pitchforks who stormed the Bastille gotten to? They must've been held up by paperwork, too....
Every few days, we receive an email from the University in Paris: "many condolences...hope to see you soon." Without malice or sarcasm, we can still say the same. But our patience begins to wear thin. Why, why, why?
Above all, stop asking why. We must remember that Job tried taking that tack, and got quite the earful. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned whose eternal weight is infinitely greater than starting a new job on time. Ah-ha! - entirely possible. Yes, we are learning to pray together with some fervency. Yes, we are learning to run into each other's arms for comfort when we're depressed. Yes, we have been reminded of how thoroughly and admirably our loved ones live their lives everyday. (You know, not everyone has the fortune to return to the family nest(s) as an adult and tag along for a few weeks. There are amazing things we've seen in the way of love and wisdom that would have sailed right over our heads as kids.)
"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country" (Proverbs 25:26). Hence, we have been checking the email rather obsessively. But Proverbs also says: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." How much can the heart take? We are learning the emotional practicality of reading our Bibles first thing, then checking the email for news. We watch for the Lord and wait for Him to move on our behalf.